Cardiff topple brave Palace
Substitute Aron Gunnarsson headed home the winner for
Championship leaders Cardiff City, who beat Crystal Palace 2-1 on
An action-packed first half was book-ended by two goals 40
minutes apart, Mike Jedinak stunning the sell-out crowd with an
early opener before Craig Noone’s equalised a minute before the
Cardiff’s goal led a charmed life with Wilfried Zaha’s splendid
effort hitting the bar and chances aplenty for Palace but half-time
substitute Gunnarsson helped turn the tide for the Bluebirds before
scoring his sixth of the season from close range.
The Eagles came into this match having scored in all-but one of
their League games this season so it was perhaps no surprise when
captain Jedinak nodded home after just 180 seconds.
But Cardiff’s reaction was laboured to say the least and it took
until the 16th minute for the Bluebirds to really set their sights
on Julian Speroni’s goal, Craig Bellamy’s ambitious half-volley
sparking cries of “top of the league, you’re having a laugh” from
the buoyant travelling support.
And the 1,190 behind Speroni’s goal had every right to be
boisterous given their team’s start which they came incredibly
close to extending in two first-half minutes.
First Glenn Murray’s touch let him down as he raced clear and
then Zaha’s trickery bamboozled Kevin McNaughton down the Palace
left and his right-footed curler crashed off the crossbar. When the
ball bounced back to Yannick Bolasie his deflected drive forced
Marshall into a fingertip save.
A minute later Palace were threatening yet again, Owen Garvan’s
free-kick forcing Marshall into a low-save.
At the other end only the combination of Peter Ramage and his
keeper Speroni kept out Bellamy after the Welshman tried a cute lob
after racing clear.
Just when it looked like the Bluebirds would go into the
interval behind for the second successive home game they drew
level. Bellamy’s pace helped him get the better of Parr down the
Cardiff left and his pull-back into the box was perfect for Noone
to hammer a first-time effort into the top of the Palace net.
After an off-colour first-half display Malky Mackay shuffled his
midfield at the break with Jordon Mutch being replaced by
Gunnarsson. And his change seemed to work a treat, with the Iceland
midfielder helping to stop the
constant stream of Palace chances.
And in fact it took 12 minutes of the second period for the next
chance, Garvan’s drive flying just inches wide of Marshall’s near
Bellamy was Cardiff’s biggest threat and the 33-year-old tested
Speroni with a low drive from an angle from Gunnarsson’s clever
pass as the game reached the hour mark.
Cardiff were beginning to engineer more chances and that
pressure paid off 27 minutes into the second half when Gunnarsson
rose to head in Bellamy’s right-footed corner via the underside of
the bar. Only the reactions of Speroni stopped the home side
extending their hard-fought lead, the keeper diving right to flick
Whittingham’s free-kick onto the bar.